Did Barth understand Przywara?
Keith L. Johnson, Karl Barth and the Analogia entis, T&T Clark Studies in Systematic Theology (London; T&T Clark, 2010).
[D]id Barth truly understand Przywara’s theology in general and the analogia entis in particular?as Johnson notes, all these are merely preliminary conclusions that require bearing out on the basis of what Barth actually says about Przywara. Johnson spends a great deal of time doing just that over the course of his volume, which is just one more reason why it ought to be on your shelf.
To address this question, it will be helpful to summarize what we know of Barth and Przywara’s encounters…We know that Barth had positive feelings for Przywara personally, both from their letters to one another and from Barth’s remarks…to Thurneysen. It is clear as well that Barth did not have a negative preconception of the analogia entis before he read Przywara’s book and met him personally, because he had used the principle in his own dogmatic theology. We know that Barth read at least the first two parts of Przywara’s Religionsphilosophie carefully and discussed it at length during two seminar sessions; we know that he listened to a lengthy lecture from Przywara about Roman Catholic ecclesiology; we know that he sat with Przywara for a two-hour discussion of Przywara’s theology in his seminar; and we know that Barth and Przywara spent two evenings together in Barth’s home for one-on-one discussions of theology. If Barth had misconceptions about the analogia entis, therefore, Przywara had ample time to disabuse Barth of them. We also know that Barth had long since proven himself to be a perceptive and insightful reader of theological texts. His lectures on Zwingli, Calvin, and Schleiermacher at Göttingen stand as examples of his perceptive insight, and the same can be said for his book on Anselm and the lectures that would become Protestant Theology in the Nineteenth Century, which were originally delivered in 1929-30 in Münster and continued in 1932-3 in Bonn. Throughout this period, Barth showed an attention to detail, an ability to recognize the contours of a theologian’s argument and the underlying motivation for it, and a willingness to let a theologian’s work speak for itself. He showed himself, in other words, not to be merely a polemicist who saw in text what he wanted to see.
On the basis of all of this evidence, therefore, it is clear that Barth was in position to obtain an accurate idea of what Przywara meant by the term analogia entis, what the implications of the principle were, and how it fit into Przywara’s larger theological project. It is also clear that Barth did not approach Przywara or the analogia entis in a polemical, or for that matter, a ‘demented’ way. He approached Przywara as someone representing another tradition, to be sure, and it is clear that Barth recognized points of disagreement between their views. He did not see Przywara as an enemy, however, but as a kindred spirit, albeit one with whom he could not always agree.
In short...we have every reason to conclude that Barth's eventual rejection of the analogia entis was based not upon a lack of understanding or upon an unfair approach to Przywara's theology or to analogia entis itself.